Eight groups from the Archdiocese of Denver are going to Philadelphia to see Pope Francis. Please pray for our pilgrims!
Archdiocese of Denver official pilgrimage
Number of pilgrims: 66
The Archdiocese of Denver began to plan for this trip last September, when they first heard about the meeting of families. Planning escalated when they learned the Pope would be attending. The trip’s organizers said that are excited about bringing together a variety of Denver Catholics, from many different parishes.
“It’s a compilation of many parishes, so it’s an eclectic group of people from all over the archdiocese,” said trip organizer Mary McGeehan, of the office of Evangelization and Family Life Ministries.
Redemptoris Mater Seminary
Number of pilgrims: about 16
“Every time the Pope comes, we want to be there to show our support,” said prefect of studies Father Emilio Francome.
Father Francome said that their visit will be brief, lasting only three and a half days. The seminarians will stay with a Redemptoris Mater alumni at his parish near downtown Philadelphia. They will attend a vigil celebration Saturday, the public Mass with the pope on Sunday, and attend a neocatachumen way meeting on Monday before heading back to Denver.
Despite their packed schedule, Father Francome said the pilgrimage may give the seminarians a much-needed recharging.
“When you are in the seminary…the daily routine is such that you can lose perspective,” he said. “Things like this can be reviving.”
He said he hopes they will inspired to see so many other Catholics wanting to live their faith, to receive a message from the Holy Father that they will then bring back to Denver and to have a deeper appreciation for the importance of Christian families.
“We exist as priests because we are there to support the families, but we need also to receive from them. It’s a reciprocal relationship,” he said.
St. John Vianney Theological Seminary
Number of pilgrims: about 22
Although the trip serves as a break from the seminarian’s studies, they will still have certain duties to perform. For example, organizers from the World Meeting of families asked Vice Rector of St. John Vianney Theological Seminary Father Jason Wallace is some of the seminarians would help with the meeting. In addition, the seminarians will stay with families in the Philadelphia area.
“We have Catholics and non-Catholics opening themselves to house seminarians,” Father Wallace said. “The seminarians are going to see the Pope in union with the bishops from each of their diocese. It’s a good way for the guys to give testimony to who they are.”
Christ in the City
Number of pilgrims: 10
The missionaries at Christ in the City view a pilgrimage to see Pope Francis, who frequently emphasizes the importance of serving the poor, as completely in line with their mission. While they said they are excited to see the poor, missionary Trey Gross said they are especially excited to live out the mission during their pilgrimage.
“We’ll be serving the poor in Philly. We’re going to grab some local college students and do streetwalks, just like we do here,” he said. “We’re not only going to receive a lot of formation in seeing the pope and everything, but we’re also going to give of ourselves. We’re there to give as well as receive to the people of the archdiocese of Philadelphia.
St. Thomas More (Centennial)
Number of pilgrims: 73
St. Thomas More went to great lengths to make their trip as flexible and affordable as possibly, so that families could easily attend. In addition, they have chosen to place a special emphasis on religious freedom.
For example, while some members of the trip go to visit local shrines, others will go to Independence Hall.
“Our religious freedoms today are constantly challenged and threatened. We wanted our pilgrims to be able to see what our forefathers did. ” said trip director Jo Holt.
Holt said it may be many of the children’s first time experiencing a pilgrimage. She is personally excited to wake up her 10, 11, and 14-year-old children to find a spot for the Papal Mass.
“They don’t understand what it’s like to make sacrifices, and to have our schedule go outside what it normally is, Holt said. “I’m excited for the time our family going to spend and experience the richness of our faith.”
Immaculate Heart of Mary (Northglenn)
Number of pilgrims: from 6-20
Father Joe Doman is a Philly native, and said he is excited to bring his parishioners on this pilgrimage. The group started meeting four months ago, during which they would do an examination of conscience, and read from “Love is Our Mission”, an official preparatory text for the World Meeting of families.
Father Doman said he hopes he and the parishioners understand the deeper meaning of their pilgrimage.
“Every physical pilgrimage we take prepares us for the spiritual one we’re on,” he said. “The love I’m made for isn’t something I’m just in; it’s a mission.”
Queen of Peace (Aurora)
Number of pilgrims: around 150
Pastor Father Felix Medina has had his hands full, attempting to transport 150 parishioners with wildly different cultural and linguistic backgrounds to attend the World Meeting of Families. However, he said that the challenge is also a blessing.
“We always have those challenges here already. We hope that the spirit of the pilgrims and being open to the Holy Spirit, and knowing that the Holy Spirit is only one, will lead us to openness to each other like at Pentecost. We pray for the grace of conversion of openness to God and to each other,” Father Medina said.
Queen of Peace will broadcast some of the events for the people still in Aurora, so that they can experience some of the Pope’s visit. Father Medina said he hopes the experience will help his parish grow in knowledge of marriage and the importance of the Pope.
“Peter is a source of unity in the Church. He’s the same pope for everyone,” Father Medina said. “We are different, but we have to be unified. There’s nothing worse to evangelization than division.”
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton (Fort Collins)
Number of pilgrims: 143
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Fort Collins is going on a week-long pilgrimage, beginning in Boston, where thy will visit their patron saint. They will then make their way down to Philly.
“I’m excited because it’s a blessing for the church, to bring our parish with us to ask the blessing of our patron as we move forward into the future,” pastor Father Joseph Toledo.
Father Toledo said the group is especially blessed by the large number of children going. He has planned for activity books and scavenger hunts at each place they visit to help the children understand what is happening.
“I think that some of the blessing will be to help our families grow in the love of God, and that God is helping them every day, and just to see the children’s faces. I think for many of these children, it will be the first time and maybe the last time they see the Holy Father in the United States,” Father Toledo said.
In addition to the groups listed above, around 30 individuals chose to go to Philly privately. The Neocatachumenal Way also brought a group, but had not responded to an interview request by press time.